Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, and broken in Spirit, the disciples and apostles spent the day mourning their fallen Lord.
Having died, just as fully as you and I will, The Son of Man’s spirit left His holy, but now lifeless, body. One must wonder where His spirit went in the days after His death. Fortunately, we have that answer: like all dead souls, His spirit went into the spirit world, wherin one awaits the resurrection. The Sinless one, burst the door between that prison and the spirit world, and entered paradise. So he had promised to the repentant thief, “today, you shall be with me in paradise.” Here he taught the deceased who would listen. Some assume that in this time, He had returned to the throne of His Father, but tomorrow, we will see, He affirms that he “[had] not yet ascended to [His] Father.”
Ever the Teacher, Christ ministered to both the spirits in paradise and those in prison. As Peter declared, decades later: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient…”
As the day of rest, the Sabbath is a day fitting for the Lord’s body to be unmoved and for His spirit to do the work of the day: bringing souls peace, joy, and preaching the Gospel of Christ.
So the day went by with little action, at least visible to the mortal man. But they prayed, and the mourned, and they mentally and emotionally prepared for the next day, when they planned to return to the Holy Body, and give Him the proper burial robbed Him by the short time on Friday.
So must we prepare for tomorrow. So must we pray, but our preparation is different than our brothers of the past. We prepare instead to celebrate the greatest day in human history: a needed relief from the day mourning the the worst in human history.
Yesterday I learned of something that grieves my soul. And I ask your help:
We know the barbarism currently falling on the followers of the Messiah in the Middle East. It has officially been labeled a genocide. Following the butcher of 15 million souls less than an hundred years ago, we as a people have vowed “never again.” Sadly, we have broken that vow, and stood by during repeated genocides and butcherings in the years following.
I served the Chaldean Catholics on my mission, though having fled this same persecution for their testimony, they were wary to accept to the Restored Gospel, as to them it felt like abandoning those left in their old homes. I am personally invested in these people. It is their families and friends who are now facing death in Iraq. Preparations have been made for over 1000 souls to retreat from the Islamic State, and to find new homes in safe counties. Our own country has refused these refugees, but a place had been found for them throughout Europe.
Following the deadly and dastardly attack in Brussels last week, however, the doors were shut for these people of the Cross: they are not being allowed to flee the death camps and beheading axe that they face now. They are literally in imminent peril. The symbol of the Arabic ‘n’ has been painted on the doors of the believers to mark them as followers of the Nazarene. This mark is literally a death sentence: “convert, pay the price of subjection, or die.” Most have died or fled rather than deny the testimony of the Lord.
The funds are there for their rescue, the homes are there for them to retreat to, these impoverished and desperate followers of Christ are ready and hopeful to leave; but the doors to their rescue have been shut.
So I beg you, as you prepare for tomorrow’s feasting, celebrations, and time with family; pray for a miracle. Pray aloud, pray with your families, and pray in your heart. The very lives of our brothers and sisters are at stake. Pray that the hearts of world leaders will be softened. Pray that the doors that were open will once again open in their behalf. For the love of Christ is charity, and it is not enough that we accept that love, if we don’t have it for others.
Pray, remember, and prepare for the coming of our Lord. For the love of God and His people, pray with me!
UPDATE 2018: One fund, the Nazarene Fund, has worked tirelessly over the last 2 years, since I wrote this article; they had prepared to evacuate those 1000 people. The update they give is as follows: “We have surpassed that goal through evacuating a total of 8,202 people, providing housing for 5,462 people, and giving humanitarian aid to over 35,000. We confidently and proudly report that 95 rescues have been made to date. In 2017 The Nazarene Fund has focused on the task at hand, placing all efforts on the mission – to rescue, rebuild and restore people’s lives. Although much has been done, the work has just begun.”
There are a few, too few, but some others who are working to rescue and stop the genocides still happening in the middle east against the Christians and Yazidis. While there has been good news, there have been many who have returned home to our Heavenly Father at the hands of murderers intent upon the complete destruction of all of the “people of the book.” There is still so much more to do.
Update 2019: with the effective defeat of ISIS as an international actor, the Nazarene Fund has shifted their focus to continue their previous mission and to join Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R. Rescue) in theirs. I not only approve of this combination (as if my paltry voice matters on the topic), but I fully embrace the choice.
https://thenazarenefund.org/about-us/ to date, over 10,000 individuals have been evacuated. Moreover, 121 children have been rescued from sex slavery. The mission continues, and still needs our efforts to continue.
Update 2020: As the need for evacuation has slowed, the process of restoring humans to their homes and lives has begun in more focused effort, by the Nazarene Fund. As of 11 April 2020 they have “sponsored or conducted successful rescues to date of Christian and Yazidi women and children captured by ISIS and reunited with their families;” Evacuated nearly 11,000 people from areas of imminent danger; moved ~5500 people from refugee camps into more human living conditions; and provided humanitarian aid to over 100,000 people fleeing conflict zones.
Combined with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), the Nazarene Fund are both urgently in need of additional resources in light of the Covid-19 Virus. As the economies of the world have ground to a slow pace, those in the lowliest positions are at the greatest risk; and opportunities for liberating the enslaved open, which haven’t been. If you are in a position to help, please consider doing so.